Family Histories


Capturing the Family History

"Don't Waste Your Time"


William "Bill" Holden talks about being in intensive care before he received a heart transplant.

Each day, for 31 days, his family was told it would probably be his last. Bill talks about how this experience changed his outlook on life.

Capturing a good oral history is part technical and part art.

Technical aspects include lighting and backgrounds that direct the focus on the speaker. Also essential, are cameras and microphones set up properly to capture both the image and the sound in a way that enhances the story being told.

The art of capturing a good oral history is creating an atmosphere where the person being interviewed is relaxed and comfortable. There is an art to engaging the person being interviewed and allowing them to direct their own unique story.

At times the technical aspects and the art of an interview may be in conflict. For example, recognizing when a compromise is necessary between the idea lighting or backdrop and creating the right environment.

A list of interview questions or topics should be developed prior to the start of the interview. Interview questions function as conversation starters to help “prime the pump”. During the interview, new topics or stories may come up and the interview process should be flexible enough to explore unexpected twists and turns.

Typically it will take about an hour to set up the interview space and about an hour or so for the actual interview. The actual length of the interview is totally dependent on person being interviewed.

Presentation 9/8/2015 - The Art of Capturing a Family Oral History

Capturing the Family History